Despite the fact that fungal nail infections are notoriously tricky to get rid of, they’re thankfully quite easy to avoid—if you know how, of course!
Fungal infections are seriously easy to contract and super contagious, so it pays to have a few tips up your sleeve to beat a fungal skin or nail infection.
Top 5 tips for fungus-free feet
1.Boil your socks
We’re not kidding; regularly popping your socks in a pot of boiling water can help stop you from getting fungal nail and prevent friends and relatives from catching it (if you’ve already got it!).
Why? Fungus can’t survive extremely high temperatures. Boiling your socks for 10 minutes at 55-60 degrees will kill off any fungus that might be lurking in your socks. But remember, simply washing your socks on a regular (40-60 degree) wash cycle will do nada to nuke fungal spores.
2.Don’t share showers
Communal showers are a breeding ground for fungus. This is because fungal infections are extremely common and public showers are high-traffic areas; lots of feet means a much greater chance of catching a fungal infection! Think Gyms, swimming pools, beach side change rooms!
Super tip; If you must share a shower area, be sure to wear thongs to help minimise the risk of picking up fungal spores.
3.Be nail salon smart
A professional pedicure can be a relaxing way to prep your feet for summer—but not if you go home with more than you bargained for. Busy nail salons can be a breeding ground for fungus, so make sure you seek out a reputable nail bar. Ensure a new set of tools is opened just for you and the foot basins are lined with plastic protectors that are replaced at every use.
Super tip; If you want to be super vigilant, take your own nail file.
If you’re at the beach or swimming pool and there are outdoor and indoor showers—take the outdoor option.
Indoor showers are darker and might not have the drainage that the outdoor showers do, which means that water can collect. This creates a dark and wet environment—the perfect place for a fungal spore party!
Super tip; Outdoor showers on the other hand have the benefit of UV rays, which dries the shower area and reduces the likelihood of a fungal infection.
5.Keep feet dry
Fungal spores love dark, damp places—just like between the toes of sweaty feet. An easy step to stop fungal infections in their tracks is to make sure feet are washed and thoroughly dried on a daily basis. Sounds easy right? Yet if it were really that simple, fungal infections wouldn’t be so commonplace.
Super tip; Help protect your feet from fungus by using an antibacterial foot powder or spray in your shoes and on your feet, changing your socks daily and washing your feet after exercise.
Facing up to fungus
Fungal spores are invisible to the human eye, so it’s important to be able to quickly recognise the signs of a fungal skin or nail infection. Symptoms include:
- Dry skin or white patches around the toes that remain even after moisturising
- Callused skin – people often think its just dry skin, look for the other signs
- Small blister like patches on your skin.
- Discolouration of the toenail (usually white, yellow or brown streaks)
- Thickening of the nail
- Crumbling nail
Let’s face it, sometimes fungal spores will get the better of us. The trick is to treat a fungal skin or nail infection at first sight.
You can start by trying a broad-spectrum antifungal cream or ointment containing the active ingredient terbinafine, which can help kill the infection. Yet despite being widely available, antifungal ointments, paints and creams have a very low success rate.
Our Podiatrist Dr Ryan explains that this is why A Step Ahead Foot + Ankle Care are fighting more and more cases of fungal nail with laser.
“Laser works by penetrating the nail, heating up the nail base and killing the fungal spores.
“To ensure the best results we always treat all ten toes so that every single spore is busted. We also use a mirco drill, which makes tiny holes in the toenail and enables the laser to successfully reach the nail bed. It can help with post-laser treatment too, as any creams applied will also make their way into the nail bed for better results.”
Added benefits of fighting fungus with laser include:
- Laser can beat even the most stubborn fungal spores
- 80% of patients only require a single treatment
- Treatment can take less than an hour
- There are minimal (if any) side effects
- No referral is required